Let’s move the needle on frequent play!
“Let’s move” the needle on frequent play!
BNP Paribas Showdown … Tennis Night in America … Youth Registration … Feb. 28 was an important date in this game.
You probably heard about, and hopefully watched, the BNP Paribas Showdown, which featured an all-star night of champions, with John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl, Pete Sampras, and Andre Agassi playing in Madison Square Garden. That evening also was Tennis Night in America, a celebration of tennis that continued through the month of March with Youth Registration events — the sport’s largest youth recruitment effort. For Youth Registration, facilities sign up kids for junior tennis events, many offering 10 and Under Tennis, including Junior Team Tennis, tournaments, clinics and camps.
If you did watch the BNP Paribas Showdown, you probably saw a commercial with First Lady Michelle Obama. This is groundbreaking for tennis — the first lady, and her “Let’s Move!” campaign to encourage kids to get active, has teamed with the USTA to promote tennis as one way for children to be active and get the daily exercise they need.
You’ll see versions of this public service announcement featuring the first lady in many places — on the web, on TV, at tennis events and more. And it couldn’t come at a more needed time in this industry. We all know that tennis provides plenty of activity — for both adults and kids — and the Let’s Move! initiative encourages kids to get at least 60 minutes of activity a day, certainly an easy task once we can get these kids playing tennis.
Why is this important? Because these 10-and-under kids are our biggest and best hope to boost the number of frequent players in this country. And that’s vital to your business, whether you’re a teaching pro, run a tennis facility or own a pro shop, or are in one of the many other jobs in this industry.
The latest TIA/USTA Participation Survey (see page 24) shows that the number of frequent players in the U.S. has now dipped below 5 million for the first time since 2005 and is now relatively flat over the past seven years. You can possibly attribute this to a number of things — the economy, prolonged bad weather, an “aging” tennis population from the tennis boom of the 1970s. But the fact is, we need frequent players to help every business in this industry.
And we need to look to kids for that future growth in the game, and for our long-term health as an industry.
See all articles by Peter Francesconi
About the Author
Peter Francesconi is editorial director of RSI magazine.